A piano somberly churns out a melody at the onset of the Sharon Lia Band’s “Why Can’t We Pretend?,” pendulously luring us closer to an empty canvas that will soon be filled with the colorful singing of Sharon Lia in this first single and lyric video from her group’s new album Beyond Wonderland. Our leading lady begins to croon, and every word that slips from her lips seems to weigh heavier than the one that preceded it only milliseconds before. There’s something in Lia’s voice that tells us this balladic reflection is only the beginning of a much grander confessional, and in the next few minutes, we’ll learn just how imposing a force her band can turn out when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Electric guitars enter view and bring with them a flood of overdriven grooves that replace the sluggish pace of the intro with a fierce, empowering tempo more befitting of the Sharon Lia Band. Their notes rain down on us and stoke a reaction out of even the coldest of hearts, but even when they’re applying a ton of pressure against the bassline and the lead vocal track, nothing is stealing the spotlight away from Lia’s voice in this song. Her verses are transcendent, her style of execution as original as they come, and for all of the wonderment that her backing band is delivering, it doesn’t hold a candle next to what she’s doing by herself with nothing more than a microphone in her hand.
“There’s a deeply emotional quality to Sharon’s voice as she sings about pain and remorse and the hollow feeling of actions and consequences. Ultimately this is a song about an experience that has changed you to your core and Sharon reaches deep into her core to deliver this performance.
In the instrumental break, it’s quite easy to get lost in the sea of string harmonies that wrap around us tightly, as if to squeeze every last bit of air from our lungs in a sonic show of strength. It’s tense, but the atmospheric grind of the bass keeps everything from disintegrating into a mess of neo-symphonic noise. I think this might be the most ambitious songwriting that the Sharon Lia Band have thus far committed to master tape, and whether the remaining tracks on Beyond Wonderland are as engrossing as this one is or not, this is a single that could absolutely elevate their status within the regal hierarchy of independent alternative rock acts trying to make a play for the presently-vacant throne in the impending decade.
With one final burst of audiological might, “Why Can’t We Pretend?” comes to a conclusion, and while it’s not the longest song I’ve heard all summer, coming in at a moderate four-minutes in total, this composition has a way of reducing the listeners’ perception of time itself. The Sharon Lia Band supply us with one of the more hypnotically harmonious rock ballads that I’ve encountered throughout 2019 in this single, and if they weren’t being taken seriously before its release, I’m fairly certain that they’re going to claim a lot more respect from around the underground after it gets onto a few college radio playlists this August. There’s no one making the sort of urbane, intellectually-stimulating rock that they are right now, and that by itself makes their latest studio offering a worthwhile acquisition.
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